Nick Nelson

Week That Was

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Week That Was: Dozier Derby

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Last year, halfway through the month of June, Brian Dozier had seven home runs and a sub-.700 OPS. He appeared to be trudging through a thoroughly mediocre campaign, and plenty of fantasy owners gave up on his lagging production.


Those who stuck with him were richly rewarded. From June 19th through the end of the season, the Minnesota second baseman amazingly hit 35 home runs in 92 games, slugging .651 and also handily throwing in 12 stolen bases. He was an absolute machine, going yard with staggering frequency (once every 12 plate appearances) on his way to setting a record for homers by an American League second baseman.


Needless to say, Dozier's owners weren't bailing this summer, despite a fairly pedestrian first half. And while his mid-June power surge never really came this time around, we might be seeing it here in August. He went deep twice in a game against Texas last weekend, and has added three more since, including a grand slam on Tuesday.


If last year's precedent is any indication, he's got many more left in him the rest of the way.


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* We're past the non-waiver deadline, but that doesn't mean trading season is over. On Sunday, the Mariners acquired Yonder Alonso from the Athletics in exchange for outfielder Boog Powell, and two days later Alonso made his Seattle debut, batting second and supplanting Danny Valencia at first base.


Those two figure to mostly platoon the rest of the way, which makes plenty of sense for the M's but is bad news for both players from a fantasy perspective. Alonso is more valuable, since he's a better overall hitter and will get the majority of at-bats, but he'll probably play less than he did in Oakland.


* The Indians, nursing a tenuous lead in the AL Central, also struck a deal this week, bringing in Jay Bruce from the Mets. The outfielder is having another great year, with 29 homers already in the books, and he's a big upgrade in a Cleveland outfield that has lacked stability. Bruce figures to drive in and score more runs in a superior lineup.


* A forgettable season for Felix Hernandez has taken another unfortunate turn. After being placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis last weekend, he was diagnosed on Tuesday with right shoulder bursitis, and is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks. Hernandez dealt with the same issue earlier this season and was sidelined for almost two months. While Seattle seems to think it's less serious this time around, we wouldn't be shocked if he doesn't start again in 2017. The Mariners are also going to be without James Paxton (pectoral) for about three weeks, so their outlook isn't great in the wild-card race.

 

* Just ahead of Opening Day, the Cardinals announced a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension with Stephen Piscotty, essentially committing to him as a long-term staple in their outfield.


On Monday, they optioned him to Triple-A.


It's likely just a bump in the road for the talented 26-year-old, but he's really had a rough go of it this year, with only six home runs in 75 games after going deep 22 times in 2016. He'd been scuffling badly since returning from a groin injury at the beginning of August, with three hits in 17 at-bats.  


As long as he gets on track in the minors, we expect to see him back up in September.


* There are freak incidents, and then there is what happened to Johan Camargo on Tuesday night. The rookie shortstop stumbled while jogging out to the field in the first inning, and ended up hyperextending his knee. Diagnosed with a bone bruise, he will probably miss the rest of August. It's a real shame because the 23-year-old had been a refreshingly effective option at short for the Braves following almost four months of Dansby Swanson ineptitude.


Now, Swanson is back up, even though he had a meager .698 OPS in 11 games at Triple-A since being demoted at the end of July. We remain bullish on the former top draft pick long-term, but there's little reason to think a turnaround at the plate is imminent. He's gone 0-for-8 in his first two games back.


* Just days after promoting shortstop Amed Rosario, who hit his first big-league homer in dramatic fashion on Friday night, the Mets have called up another of their top hitting prospects: outfielder Dominic Smith. The 22-year-old had a .905 OPS with 16 homers in 114 games at Triple-A, and should be the everyday first baseman in New York from here on out with Bruce and Lucas Duda out of the way. He's available in 85% of Yahoo leagues.


* It's been great to see Michael Brantley healthy this year after complications recovering from shoulder surgery basically wiped out his entire 2016 season. He made the All Star team in July and has generally been looking much like his old self. But now, he'll have to sit for a while. The Cleveland outfielder sprained his ankle on Tuesday and, though it's being dubbed mild, he was still placed on the shelf. It seems likely that Brantley will miss more than the 10-day minimum, but maybe not much more. The addition of Bruce looms large.


* Last year, Phillies prospect Rhys Hoskins emerged as one of the best power hitters in the minors, slugging 38 home runs in 139 games with Class-AA Reading. Here in 2017, he's kept it rolling, with an International League-leading 29 bombs through 115 contests at LeHigh Valley. Now, his prodigious bat has arrived in the majors.


Hoskins started getting some reps in the outfield early in the week, and was called up to Philadelphia on Thursday. He'll primarily play left, with Tommy Joseph remaining in the lineup at first base. Hoskins has the attributes of a guy who can make a smooth transition to the majors – hits righties and lefties, shows solid patience, doesn't whiff a ton – so we're expecting an immediate impact. Swoop him up if you're looking to capture some major upside down the stretch.


* On Thursday the Yankees activated Aaron Hicks, who's missed the last six weeks with an oblique strain. He returns to an excellent .913 OPS and should pick up right where he left off after crushing his minor-league rehab stint.


* Willson Contreras is expected to spend 4-to-6 weeks on the shelf with a hamstring injury. Recently acquired Alex Avila will be the primary starter behind the plate in his absence, making him a solid add in deeper leagues or two-catcher formats.




Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.
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